Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Best and Worst of Last Week

The Ravens are 2-0, which is pretty exciting, but our vaunted defense is not so great anymore. The secondary, which has been falling apart slowly for years, looks really bad right now. Still it was against the Chargers and we match up horribly against them. Still a win is a win and the Ravens now have an offense. I can’t remember when we have scored 30 plus points in back to back games.

Okay back to comics. A growing trend is coloring comics directly from the pencils. I know that the old days of actual pencils on paper are slowly passing us by and that we have all sorts of computerized tools to work with, but until the pencils can have the darkness of inks it still makes the art look weak when the pencils are colored. There are the exceptions such as the work that Dale Eaglesham did with the Fantastic Four. In that case he made his pencil work a lot heavier so as to almost mimic inks and it worked. In other work (and if you pay attention you will see a lot of them) they have abandoned the inker all together and it does not work as well. Finally does this generate savings to the company? If yes why am I paying $4 for a comic?


Blackest Night #3 (of 8) - Writer Geoff Johns, Pencils Ivan Reis, Inks Oclair Albert with Joe Prado, Colors Alex Sinclair. This issue just continues the string of excellence from Geoff and I love the way the story is being put together. The actual Blackest Night series is holding together as the heart of the story and I believe someone could read just this and get a great story. The first two chapters have given us the menace of the Black Lanterns and their main corps member the Black Hand. This chapter starts to pull the curtain back on what is going on and how the menace can be fought. From here we have to find out who is behind it and how to defeat the villain. Finally is everyone who died really dead? Will death have more or less finality at the end of this event? DC has me somewhat like a kid again looking forward to every week, wondering what happens next and wanting to read what happens next after that. Heck I almost try to ignore some of the news so I can get that surprised feeling when I read a new comic like I did years ago. Thanks Geoff! The best part of this issue for me was the fact that we got some level of explanation about what can be done to stop the Black Lanterns. As I said, in the first two issues it felt like there was no stopping them and the heroes were only fighting a battle to survive because there really appeared to be no way to win. When the Indigo Lanterns show up suddenly and helped to take down the Black Lantern by channeling Hal’s power with hers the whole dynamic of the series was changed. See my full review here.

Batman and Robin #4 - Writer Grant Morrison, Pencils Phillip Tan, Inks Jonathan Glapion, Color Pete Pantazis. Grant Morrison is having a brilliant run on this book since we have had the new Batman and Robin. The book has never felt more vibrant or alive then it is right now in many, many years. The opening sequence was great where Batman’s new flying Batmobile pulls up behind the bad guy and frightens him. As he is running away you think he is caught by Batman and Robin, but instead it is the Red Hood and Scarlet. The Red Hood now has his Robin and they are the classic mirror image type of bad guys from years ago, but with a much harder edge. The Red Hood’s Robin is one of Professor Pyg’s dolls from the first arc and she is afraid to remove the mask for fear her face has been destroyed. We also have a great scene where Dick is in his civilian identity at some sort of function and it is the first glimpse we have had of Dick now playing the social function that Bruce used to play in the book. At the party is the extremely tall and costumed person who calls himself Gravedigger. It is an odd scene, but obviously a portent of someone who will be playing a role in the book down the road. Another scene was Batman and Robin on a stakeout. While the situation is serious there is a playful interchange between Dick and Damian which shows the relationship is taking on less of an adversarial type relationship and more one of comrades in arms if not mentor and student. As for the art, while Phillip Tan is not Frank Quietly, this was a well done issue on the art side of the equation also, especially the action scenes. This is just a damn good series.

Brave and Bold #27 - Writer J. Michael Straczynski, Art Jesus Saiz, Colors Trish Mulvihill. J. Michael Straczynski has been in a zone for this year. The Twelve, Thor, The Red Circle and now The Brave and The Bold. Writers seem to get into grooves at times and can do no wrong. Warren Ellis a couple of years ago was in that type of groove and Geoff Johns was doing it for 2008. I know Johns is doing great things with Blackest Night, but prior to that he was hit and miss with some of his work this year. No writer is perfect every time out, but when they hit a groove they are pretty much a mortal lock for delivering a great story and JMS has been that way for me of late. The Brave and Bold is no exception and this introductory issue was a great one. A few things really stood out for me. Number one the great use of Robby Reed (Dial “H” for Hero), the use of the Joker (understated elegance), the use of Travers Milton (the everyman) and how we never had to know if this was Bruce or Dick under the cowl. It was a great one and done story. We begin with Robby Reed and his grandfather arriving in Gotham to see the sights and then immediately cut away to Travers Milton. He is portrayed as a loser whose life has gone from ok to poor to worse. We then cut to the Joker making an absolutely fantastic speech to his henchmen. Some of the quotes are “if you stop and think about it for a second - - a process I realize may not be familiar to many of you” and “failure is not a word that exists in my universe. Except for when I have to use it for purposes of illustration.” See my full review here.


Dark Avengers #9 – The only thing this book has was great art work and the ending panel where I hope to god Sentry was actually killed. Otherwise this was one drawn out story about Ares letting his son do what he wants to do. Since they are both gods it makes sense, but did we need an entire $4 book to tell us that?


Captain America Reborn #3 (of 5) - Writer Ed Brubaker, Art Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice, Colors Paul Mounts. This series keeps missing the mark and also has a couple of things with Marvel that are pet peeves of mine. Let’s just sum it up with I hope we get to the end soon, because the re-birthing process has been painful and I think we should get an epidural. The story of what is happening to Steve Rogers as he bounces through time has been just a tour of special events in Captain America’s life. There was a show on television a long, long time ago called “This is Your Life”. If I remember correctly it would start with a guest being surprised to be on the show and then they would stand there and have their life story be told. The vignettes were either by voices from their past or some other such thing. This reeks of that type of stuff as we see these short scenes of major events in Captain America’s life go on for pages. I have seen the origin of Captain America a hundred times and we are working up to it in Marvel Projects and I also do not need a poster book showing me Cap’s greatest moments. Maybe this will all tie together somehow, but so far it feels like filler. I hope Ed makes the trip down memory lane have some validity in the overall story. See my full review here.

Dark Reign The List Daredevil – Good and Bad – really the first issue of the new direction for DD. There are a ton of unanswered questions and we are going down a road we do not see heroes take in most comics. It is almost like Daredevil is going to be forced down a path where there is not redemption. If nothing else it made me look forward to the new creative team, but it did not advance the Dark Reign story at all.

Invincible Iron Man #18 – Is it new that Iron Man’s origin now mirrors the movie time frame? So how young is Tony Stark in this world. This issue Tony gets shot in the neck and hardly flinches, can hardly type, yet is still typing computer code. This story has been way too long, but it is the only work of Fraction’s that I have actually enjoyed at all. Plus I’m curious to see where this takes us and how do you remake Tony Stark into a hero.

Modok Reign Delay – This book was amusing and a lot of goofy fun, just what I had expected and hoped for. This would have been a lot better at a $3 price point. One thing this, Kid Colt and some other stuff shows Marvel is making a serious commitment to the digital side, how long before it is only for the digital side? My guess is never as there no reason to not exploit all chances to make revenue.

Sword #19 – Seemed like a long time between issues. A lot of good revelations in a heavy exposition issue, but plenty of things to keep you interested. The poor art for certain things found a new low point with their drawing of the four elementals as children – just atrocious, but a very good story and fun read.

Vengeance of Moon Knight #1 – The $4 price tag is annoying as it is only 24 pages of story and art and then a reprint of Moon Knight #1, but the actual story was not bad. The problem is in making Moon Knight more of a straight up super hero what can he bring to the game that has not been done by a ton of other characters in stories done thousands of time. His craziness and offbeat nature are seemly being taken away. Still too early to tell and it was a nice opening with some great art by Jerome Opena.

Walking Dead #65 – This series just continues to be a great read almost every time out. I loved how Rick set up the people who were hunting his group this time and then turned the tables on them. I know Kirkman always some twists in his story so I very anxious to see how this arc ends. This book could very easily have been in the Best grouping.

This week worked out rather odd as all my Best books are from DC, but I did not feel compelled to make any remarks on any other DC book other then the ones I liked so much, so no DC in the Quick Hit category. Just an odd anomaly, but I thought it was worth noting.

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